How to get success when your name is Smith

Barack Obama, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
Barack Obama, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traditionally, noticeable names were useful in order to provide differentiation in a competitive environment. Although there are genetic reasons in order to think that if you have the family name of an outstanding person, your performance is genetically oriented to success. I do not consider that this is true because the success of people depends strongly on education and external factors. But these external factors depend strongly on your environment, and our initial environment and source of education is our family. This can be a better reason to explain why the sons of certain notorious people can find a similar or superior level of success.

Economically, my family can be considered middle class, but looking at the past, as that of many other Spaniards the reason of this is due to the Spanish civil war that drove to a change in the main families ruling my country. The origin of a grandfather of mine is related to a family of noblemen with political influence in a little Spanish province, in fact, my mother’s godfather was a lawyer and writer elected as member of the Spanish parliament during the first electoral period of the Second Spanish Republic as independent candidate. It can seem strange that he lost his bench in the second electoral process as candidate of the main conservative party of that epoch. For this man his name was more important and useful than a political party in order to become an MP. This fact can be checked easily by anybody at the web of the Spanish parliament. Today, with our electoral law, this should be considered a very improbable fact.

This was never a direct help for me, but probably, many personal values of my grandfather’s family were transmitted towards me through the family education at home. I am talking about values of the importance of college education, respect for any other people, and the importance of an ethical behavior in my professional activity.

Probably the genetic inheritance is not as important as the ethical and cultural ones. The reason why in the previous centuries sons of succeeding people were selected by enterprises or political parties to join them, could be that in the past, only rich people can access to a certain level of education, and now this accessibility is wider in the occidental countries and this fact is not so important.

In a similar way, a good corporate marketing strategy is to associate a firm to the name of a noticeable person with a set of positive values. But this is not possible if the name of that person is very common. Nobody will identify Smith with any value although, for instance, Smith & Wesson is more identifiable.

The name of my company is built around my mother’s family name; the reason is that I always was identified by it. In Spain we use the family names of both father and mother, and finally the oddest one lasts because the objective of a name is to identify an object or person and this is more difficult with the commonest one. This is the same reason as the previous Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, was known as Zapatero instead of Rodriguez. The aim of my decision was to join the activity of the company to my professional success in the past. Fortunately for this objective nobody remembers my mother’s godfather now, because I am an engineer instead of a lawyer.

This is a common marketing strategy in companies of professional services for other businesses. But, is it possible to take advantage of a name as Smith (without a Wesson)?

Of course, it is possible to do it. There are some organizations that can be interested in join a family name as Smith to an organization in order to join its brand to a common or uniform target market. The main organizations interested in something like that could be political parties, for instance. Political parties are always trying to join its brand with an image of equality to access the middle class voters. In that case the advantage of the family name is not interesting for joining the personal values of a manager with a brand; instead, the name is useful for joining the brand with the target market.

Professional services brands are interested in the former one but consumer goods companies or public organizations can take advantage of the latter one. If the political parties accept free marketing pieces of advice, someone can suggest them that for the next electoral process they change their current candidates for someone with a common family name as Smith, or García in the case of Spain. He does not provide identifiable values to its brand, but he can provide a message of the target market that they are searching for.

If your name is Smith you could build your future in politics. There is a huge future there, although there are many people yet thinking that a good candidate must provide the best values instead of being only a political marketing tool because if he wins finally, he will have to make a lot of difficult decisions.


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